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Thursday, December 16, 2010

Complacency

I have finally found the all-encompassing word that describes the Western thought that America embodies. I repeatedly refer to this "theme" in the majority of my posts. And the word has finally popped into my head. Rudimentary in our society, complacency is this very evil that blinds our faiths and morals. My previous post, and many others discuss and argue how morals are short-lived when we fall for hedonism, gluttony, and excess comfort.
A perfect Hindu term for this illusoriness is maya. (Please read the short story to understand the full meaning of this post.) Summarized, there are several stories within stories. Three, if including the larger context of the Legend of Narada within the Hindu texts of the Puranas. The protagonist of this story is none other than Narada, who has been journeying with Lord Krishna, a Christ-like reincarnation of Vishnu. The story is dizzying, especially since Western thought's story line follows the outline of past, present, future, rather than disrupting the excess weight of time. How short-lived and ephemeral do Narada's pleasures and family seem. Ultimately, Krishna remains at his resting spot, waiting for Narada to turn. This emphasizes the incomparable downplay of our venerated, worshiped deities and their lack of need for our acts of worship or praise. 
Instead, we find ourselves caught up in the time spent in our own illusions. 
Rather than return to what is ultimately real, we find pleasure and comfort in distractions. And our Western society has done a tremendous job on having the accessibility to any type of excess of pleasure at any individual's fingertips. There is much to be said about the harms that derive from a culture that promotes consumerism. But the crucial point to come away with is that though we may find ourselves stooping into the world of illusoriness, our faith in our chosen ishta, one's chosen ideal of God, allows for us to pull ourselves back out of what is not ultimately real. Again, what is not real is what is ephemeral, temporal, and nine out ten times tangible. If it's a man made object that's mass produced, it's typically going to be a potential distraction, not an immediate one. It is the individual, us, who turn something that doesn't necessarily have to be a distraction into illusion. This directly corresponds with Moses' reading of the Ten Commandments: "You shall not make for yourself an idol in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below." (Exodus 20:4.) Similarly in Narada's test put forth by Krishna, Moses relieves the people by saying "“Do not be afraid. God has come to test you, so that the fear of God will be with you to keep you from sinning.” (Exodus 20:20.) Between these two traditional stories we find that God wants us to choose what is ultimately real over the illusion. Anything other decision puts us further from our God, and it becomes difficult in discerning what is ultimately real and what is inevitably holy.